I never tire of seeing people champion Helena or recognizing her immeasurable qualities, and giving her praise that she rightly deserves. Thanks to Saranga for eloquently reminding readers AND writers alike that Helena Bertinelli is an amazing hero and inspiration.
Saranga is writing about the moment in Detective Comics #741, written by Greg Rucka with pencils by Dale Eaglesham, when Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress, stands her ground. Saranga’s thoughts follow.
Picture the scene.
Gotham has been hit by an earthquake. Most building are in ruins. There is no food, no water, no medicines and no government. The authorities pulled out months ago and were quickly replaced by a score of gangs. Money is worthless. To get goods you must barter. Alongside food, blankets and medicine, bullets and guns are the most precious commodities. There are no metahumans in Gotham. Order is kept by a small number of policemen and women and the Batclan.
Enter the Huntress, Helena Bertinelli, black sheep of the Batfamily. Long given short shrift by Batman and his associates, she was once in the Justice League - until Batman threw her out for getting too violent with one villain. She has had to fight to prove herself, her goals and her methods and has long been treated with suspicion by her peers. As a Mafia daughter she knows criminality, she knows how power works and she knows what could be gained from joining the family business. She doesn’t.
In the midst of this new Gotham hell she chose not to leave the city. She’s doubted her worth as a fighter, she’s doubted her value as a symbol and she’s despaired. She put on a Batgirl suit and tried to bring order to her little patch of the city. Subject to further Batman manipulations she is now back in her Huntress suit and allied herself with some renegade members of the police force.
Helena finds herself the sole protector and defender of a school of eighty civilians. The Joker has murdered her allies. She has no powers, no guns but she’s a hero to the bone and she doesn’t flinch. Twelve henchmen rush her but she stands her ground and takes them all on. She wins!
And then, then Joker shoots her… and still she won’t stand aside. He shoots her again. And again. She refuses to move. She doesn’t scream, or cry out. She won’t let the Joker win and she will defend the people inside with the last breath in her body.
That’s a hero. That’s a warrior, that’s a soldier. Helena has been among despair, hopelessness and misery for months. She’s been treated like dirt by the other Gotham heroes and left with virtually no phsyical or emotional support. She has had little food, little rest and no creature comforts. She’s been living in hell and yet she hasn’t given up. Despite the pain and the beatings she’s received, she holds her ground. As far as she’s aware there is no backup - she is the last line of defence between the Joker, a deeply terrifying madman, and the civilians. Defiant and proud, her one concession to his presence is to state ‘Bite me’.
She’s not doing it for glory or recognition. She’s doing it because it’s the right thing to do.
She is an inspiration.